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Welcome to the Department of
Theatre & Dance at UC San Diego!

About the Department

The Department of Theatre and Dance at UC San Diego offers BA degrees in theatre and dance, MFA degrees in Acting, Dance, Design (Costume, Lighting, Scenic, Sound), Directing, Playwriting and Stage Management, and a PhD in Theatre and Drama offered in conjunction with UC Irvine. The department shares a unique relationship with thZe Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse, in residency on the UC San Diego campus, where MFA candidates are provided professional residencies.

Mission Statement

The mission of the UC San Diego Department of Theatre and Dance is to train the next generation of artists and scholars who will shape and reimagine the way we interpret our world through the performing arts. We cultivate bold, innovative, highly skilled artists capable of thriving in a variety of professional contexts. We stress rigorous craft, critical thinking, and fearlessness. Our faculty and students represent a wide range of theatrical and dance traditions, approaches, and methodologies. We encourage diversity in perspectives and experiences fueled by the belief that this diversity is one of our greatest strengths and vital to creating work that speaks to our historical moment. We foster a community in which artists and scholars can realize their full potential in the classroom and the rehearsal hall. Production is at the core of our training program. It is the laboratory where we experiment and explore. Actors, choreographers, directors, designers, playwrights, and stage managers develop their skills by working on full-scale productions while being mentored by distinguished working artists. Our goal is to train artists and scholars with a depth of knowledge and a breadth of practice who will become leaders and pioneers in the field.

A Brief History of the Department

In the 1960s, famed director Michael Langham (former head of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis) agreed to chair what would be a Theatre department at UCSD. At that time, a private group – the Theater and Arts Foundation – was commissioned to raise money for building a theater near the campus where Langham could launch a repertory theatre, the definitive incentive for him to settle in La Jolla. English actor and director Eric Christmas was then brought on to assist Langham for when everything was arranged. However, the money and subsequently Langham eventually fell through. Christmas stayed on, though, teaching introductory theatre courses and directiing locally at the Old Globe. In 1973, UCSD finally decided to offer a major in Drama – hitherto the drama department had offered mainly introductory courses –  and to pay for the construction of a theatre. Arthur Wagner was brought in in 1974 to chair the new department. Christmas would teach Acting, Floyd Gaffney was brought in to teach Dance, Stage Movement and Black Theatre, Don Dryden would teach Technical Theatre and Design, Michael Addison taught Directing, Wagner taught Acting, Theatre History and Criticism, and Victoria Spencer served as the department's first MSO. At first a B.A. in Drama was offered through the school's liberal arts cirriculum. A few years later, with the help of Michael Addison (who wrote the petition to the university) the graduate program was set up, offering MFAs. Years later, in 1998, UCSD Department of Theatre and Dance and UCI Department of Drama joined forces in offering a ground-breaking joint PhD in theatre history and dramatic literature that combines the faculty and resources of both campuses. Today, the legacy of all those who helped make the Department of Theatre & Dance what it is today lives on in the degrees offered, the facilities of Theatre District, and the various productions on stage each season.


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UC San Diego 9500 Gilman Dr. MC0344, La Jolla, CA 92093
Tel: (858) 534-3791   Fax: (858) 534-1080